Industry workshops offer a unique experience for artists

Industry Workshops' organisers reveal why and how they created Europe's first VFX artist event.

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Industry Workshops offers a unique experience for those working in the VFX industries – everything from film, games, music videos and advertising.

Driven and inspired by artists, 2014's first three-day event held in London proved an unprecedented success. The events strive to connect attendee and lecturer, showcasing both technical and philosophical aspects of concept art, film, 3D, traditional sketching, digital matte-painting and life drawing (to name just a few).

This year, Industry Workshops is back, with speakers including costume designer Jenny Beavan, art director Kev Jenkins, 3D character sculpture Scott Eaten and lead concept artist Bjorn Hurri.

We caught up with founders and organisers Daniel Matthews, Levente Peterffy and Richard Burns to find out why they started up the event and why you should attend this year...

01. How did the event come about?

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The team hold the workshops in London because it's home to many major studios, and is easy to reach from anywhere in Europe

Daniel: Mates and coincidence really. We originally tried to do something in 2013 but our approach was wrong. So in 2014 decided to risk it. We did everything the way we would want an event like this to be run, like the addition of coffee, beers and breakfast. This is how we usually hang out so why not at a workshop?

It was a lot of hard work and so many emails, but little by little we got there. All of a sudden it was the big event and people were lining up to get in. I cant wait to share IW again this year.

Rich: I woke up in a dark room, bound and gagged and had to agree to help organise in order to get my old life back!

Levi: Love of sharing knowledge and experience among artists friends took place one night as the subject came up amongst us. We also felt we were in the right place to for creating such an event. We got together and started planning things out.

02. What is unique about Industry Workshops?

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IW now involves many experienced VFX professionals from advertising, film, games and music videos in freelance and studio capacities

Levi: A very direct and personal experience between attendees and lecturers. Not just connections with studios but also friendships.

Rich: I think at IW you get an unparalleled amount of amazing talent under one roof for three whole days. So that's like 50 hours of lecture content. We're totally amazed at the strength of who's come on board... And then on top of that, in some cases, studios are sending their whole art teams, so not only will there be amazing people on stage, but there will literally be hundreds milling around too.

At Industry Workshops you get an unparalleled amount of amazing talent under one roof for three whole days

As an organizing team we like to keep things relaxed and as un-corporate as we can. Other events can get quite stale like that, club sandwiches, bad coffee, people blowing their own horns, but we really want to keep things grounded. Oh and The Vaults (event space) is amazing.

Daniel: Networking, cool parties, and bands great locally brewed craft beer, speciality coffee and breakfast all included in the ticket. These things make me happy.

03. Who would get the most out of one of your workshops?

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Through interaction, discussion panels, recruitment and portfolio reviewing IW strives to build a learning and thriving visual fx community

Levi: People keen on learning about as much as possible from entertainment disciplines. From digital, traditional , low tech to high tech. In other words the content provided is wide. The person who's out to connect and network will certainly get a lot out of it too.

Rich: It's like anything I think really - you've got to come looking for a good time. If you're open, maybe a little humble but ready to talk and get down during the day and at the party you'll make new friends and therefore peeps who can help you get through.

It is about the work to a certain extent but a major component of IW is also about connecting off the page, so if you come with eyes open wiling to have a few laughs behind the pencil you'll kill it.

Daniel: Students and professionals will both have as much to gain as each other. We have a huge recruitment space open this year so those looking for work have some great opportunities.

So far the list of recruiters is King games, Framestore, MPC, D-Neg, and Atomhawk. So bring your a-game people!

04. Which speakers are you most excited about this year?

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Meet dozens of inspiring lecturing artists and hundreds of professionals across a variety of professions of production at IW

Rich: Mike Hill, Ben Last, Gerald Blaise, Alex Brady and Jon McCoy. But then again, at this kind of thing it's hard not to get drawn into all sorts of things. Any of these artists are great to watch as talent backed up with skill is hard to look away from. And they all have bits to teach us.

Daniel: All the sci-fi stuff! I love hard surface models and sketches, so for me the list is all of the above, plus Thomas Scholes. I really hope to pick up some knowledge from them to help with my own sketching. They all just make it look so easy!

Levi: I am really keen on Jenny Beavan because the world of costume design is so different to me. Scott Eaton will also have great experience to share as I would love to learn more about sculpting. The human figures are beautiful but also very complex and I would like to learn more about it.

05.How do you guys juggle organising such a large scale event alongside your day jobs?

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Learn about working in games, movies, commercials and with traditional arts at Industry Workshops

Daniel: Yeah the three of us work hard in our day jobs but then just as hard at this in the evenings. It can be very taxing and tough but its so worth it. When I see groups getting together online to book hostels together, and people forming great friendships it just all feels worth it. All the feels!

But yeah we get help from our mates as well from time to time, Alex Heath was a lecturer last year and this year he has been a great help.
Next year I think he will be taking a slice of event management stress off us haha.

I'm a believer in how Rousseau thought the true nature of man is to be creative

Levi: It's tough to handle at times. As I work full-time freelance, work on graphic novel and try to maintain a good family and healthy lifestyle. Some days it can feel overwhelming to fit everything in during the days. But we love the workshop and make it work as much as we can.

Rich: Oh man it can suck sometimes, no doubt! Getting in at seven pm then having to keep going till 11 or so. Right now my fiance is making dinner for me for the third night in a row (shout out). But that's our chemistry and it works...

We're driven, cause let's face it generally a nine-to-five isn't about thinking about how you're gonna get to do all this cool stuff, it's the opposite. I think IW is a 'spiritual cleanser' in a way, it's me being able to say "I did something good". I'm a believer in how Rousseau thought the true nature of man is to be creative, and IW is a way for me to encourage that to happen with people.

Industry Workshops returns this year to the Vaults Venue, London on September 10-13. For more information, check out the website and keep up to date by following the team on Twitter.

Words: Alice Pattillo

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